Taylor’s students donate reusable sanitary pads to female refugees

Thursday Apr 30th, 2020
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*Picture Caption: Students and volunteers are working tirelessly to produce the reusable sanitary pad for female refugees in Klang Valley.

By Zulita Mustafa

FIVE hundred reusable sanitary pads were delivered via express post to 250 female refugees living in Klang Valley by Taylor’s University and College students recently.

The handmade reusable sanitary pads were part of the LaunchPad Project by Taylor’s Hostel Management, aimed to end poverty among refugees living in Malaysia. 

Made with recyclable materials such as t-shirts, each sanitary napkin took about 20 minutes to be sewn and put together with a shelf life of up to two years.

Each recipient received two sanitary pads complete with a “Use and Care” instruction card with basic tips that can be followed to ensure that the pads are used hygienically.

Over 40 Taylor’s College and University students from 12 different countries, who were staying at the hostel campus, along with three refugee seamstresses from Afghanistan worked together to produce the pads.

The initiative was conducted in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Rohingya Society of Malaysia and Somali Refugee Community of Malaysia.

“Female hygiene among vulnerable groups still continues to be a persisting issue that needs to be addressed,” said Eudora Yap Xin Yun, 19, who is a member of the LaunchPad Project.

“The need for sanitary pads is even greater during the movement control order because we know that refugees don’t have enough money to stock up on pads and this is further exacerbated by the fact that they now cannot leave their homes and have lost their income,” she highlighted.

The idea behind the LaunchPad Project first took root in 2019 during a field trip to refugee communities where the students discovered that access to sanitary pads was a major challenge.

The LaunchPad Project today holds a threefold significance as it sheds light on issues of female hygiene, discusses refugee empowerment in Malaysia and talks about sustainability at the same time.

The project execution came at a timely phase of the Movement Control Order along with a couple of other initiatives taken up by Taylor’s University such as the provision of free language courses and partnering with organisations like the Biji-Biji Initiative to orchestrate the production of sustainable face shields for front-liners.

“The Covid-19 pandemic affects everyone, regardless of their nationality and gender. Refugees are especially vulnerable because they don’t have rights to work and cannot move around as freely,” said 19-year-old student Muhammad Zahidi Muhammad Zamri.

“Limited access to menstrual hygiene products is not just a female problem, it is every family’s problem,” he added. 

While the reusable sanitary napkins are not available for sale currently, the members of LaunchPad Project along with their partner the Rohingya Women Development Network hope to empower the refugees to build their own social enterprise to sell the products and develop means to fund other community and development activities.

Taylor’s Student Residences vice president Elaine Yap said: “There is deep gratification in seeing our students, under the mentorship of Student Relations, Events and Development manager, Lew Pik-Svonn, acquiring meaningful learning and stepping out of their comfort zone to support the community in times of need through a homegrown project such as LaunchPad”. 
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